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Special Report

The Latest Trend in News Coverage of the '08 Candidates

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Going Negative

A study of the three broadcast network evening news programs indicates John McCain's media fortunes have taken a dramatic turn south since early January. The Center for Media and Public Affairs says the percentage of McCain coverage it deemed positive was 46 percent from mid-December through mid-February. But look at the contrast between his 97 percent positive number before the New Hampshire primary on January eighth — and just 30 percent positive since.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama's overwhelmingly positive coverage has slipped a bit. Between mid-December and mid-February, Obama received 84 percent positive coverage. Hillary Clinton got 53 percent positive. But since Super Tuesday in early February, Obama's good press number is 67 percent. Clinton has dropped slightly to 50.

Breaking down coverage by network — ABC and CBS gave Obama 90 percent positive coverage — NBC 73 percent. For Clinton — ABC had 68 percent positive, CBS 50 percent, and only 38 percent on NBC.

One other note — criticism of Bill Clinton overall was heavy, with the former president receiving just 24 percent positive coverage for his role in his wife's campaign.

Survey Says

A Rasmussen Reports poll indicates Obama is viewed as the smartest and most likeable of the candidates — but John McCain is toughest on national security issues. Obama tops Hillary Clinton 26 to 22 percent in the smartest category. McCain checks in at 17 and Mike Huckabee at 10.

The Illinois senator is also judged most likable by a wide margin — outpolling Clinton and McCain combined. Obama got 39-percent, Clinton 18, Huckabee 16 and McCain 12. But McCain was tops in national security matters – 39 percent. Clinton was next at 19 percent. Obama had 17 and Huckabee five.

Common Ground

Obama has fans far outside the U.S. The folks in Obama, Japan have made headbands, t-shirts and sweet bean cakes decorated with his portrait. Obama is a town of about 32,000 means "little beach" in Japanese and is located about 250 miles west of Tokyo. Its citizens sent Barack Obama some gifts last year. And now the mayor says he has received a thank you letter from the candidate.

Barack Obama writes, "We share more than a common name. We share a common planet and common responsibility."

Town officials are so polite they haven't called the campaign to verify if the letter is genuine. We asked for them, and the Obama people said the letter did come from his Senate office.

Not Fair and Balanced?

Weather Channel founder John Coleman is calling global warming a fraud and says the station he founded needs to stop telling people what to think about climate change. The Business and Media Institute reports Coleman was a speaker at the Heartland Institute's Climate Change Conference in New York. Coleman was referencing what some call the Weather Channel's global warming alarmism.

One of its meteorologists suggested two years ago that weathercasters who have doubts about global warming should lose their certification. Coleman advocates suing people who sell carbon credits — including Al Gore — because the attention in the courts could, in his words, "put some light on the fraud of global warming."

The two-day conference is actually getting quite a bit of media coverage — with stories in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Sun and many others.

FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.